Thursday, May 23, 2013
Seaford's Spanish immersion program is a wonderful opportunity

By Dr. Anthony Policastro The Seaford school system recently announced that they will be starting a Spanish immersion program in two of their kindergarten classes this fall. This will involve taking entering kindergarten children and exposing them to two languages. Subjects will be taught in one language or another as they go through school. Approximately half of the children will be English speaking. The other half will be Spanish speaking. From a purely pediatric developmental standpoint, parents need to rush to register their children for this program. I have written in the past about two things related to brain development in children. The first of those is called brain plasticity. This relates to the fact that our brains develop over time. The more we do something the better we get at it. This is an example of our brain adapting to things. For example, the violin player's brain area for left hand use is more developed than the average person. An individual who takes up a new hobby will see similar improvement in that area of the brain. This is one of the reasons that we are told to keep doing mind games as we get older. It keeps those areas of our brain sharp. Young children have a lot of plasticity in their brains. They are basically set up to learn everything that exists. Over time they develop certain areas of their brains depending upon the skills that they learn. Language is one of those skills. Infants just learning to speak have the greatest ability to learn more than one language. That ability decreases over time. However, it is still strong by kindergarten. Therefore, giving a child a chance to learn a second language when they begin school is a great idea. It will be easier for them to do now than when they get older. As they improve the language area of their brain, it will help them if they wish to learn other languages later. In addition, just like doing mind games keeps us sharper as we get older, learning a second language will improve overall learning skills. Part of the reason for this is the second thing related to brain development in children. It is called apoptosis. This is kind of the opposite of plasticity. It refers to the brain removing those brain cells that we do not actively use. Infants have many potential abilities. Those abilities will decrease over the years. That is because their brain is constantly undergoing apoptosis. By the time we become adults, there are areas of our brain that have been used so infrequently that we would have a hard time developing the skills related to those areas. This is why we need to take advantage of skill development early. It needs to occur before apoptosis makes it harder to develop the skill. An immersion program like the one that is planned will not work in just any community. There needs to be equal representation of children who speak two different languages. In communities with students who speak one language, there will not be the balance needed to be successful. In our community we are fortunate that we have enough diversity to conduct such a program. We have enough children who speak Spanish to have the critical volume needed. Other communities might have a significant Polish presence or Chinese presence. There needs to be a critical mass of individuals who speak the second language to make it successful. As parents register their children for kindergarten in the Seaford school system this year, they need to realize the significance of a program like this. Both Spanish speaking parents and English speaking parents can aid their children's language development through such a program. It represents a wonderful developmental opportunity.

Free Health Fair on May 29 ACTS Manor House is partnering with Nanticoke Health Services and all of its outpatient offices to hold a free public Health Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 29, on the campus of Manor House, 1001 Middleford Rd., Seaford, to coincide with Senior Health and Fitness Day. Some highlights will include:

  • A variety of health and wellness screening opportunities for all attendees.
  • Food tables providing healthy samples, such as garden burgers, and healthy hydration stations.
  • A Manor House Fitness Director will give demonstrations on exercises and health programs specifically geared for senior health and well-being.
  • The Mayor of Seaford will give a proclamation to kick off the event.

Annual Health Fair Delaware New Tech Academy at Seaford High School will host its second annual health fair on Tuesday, June 4 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Seaford High School. The theme is "Get Healthy, Stay Healthy." There will be student-managed booths about genetic diseases and heredity, a culminating project for the 10th grade unit on genetics and heredity. Other organizations including Powerhouse/SWEAT, Nanticoke Cancer Care, Massage Envy, Seaford Nutrition Services, our own Wellness Center, and more will be manning booths regarding health and wellness.

Elder Law Q&A sessions In collaboration with Procino Wells LLC, Attorneys at Law, Delaware Hospice is offering "Off the Clock" complimentary Elder Law Q&A Sessions on Wednesday, May 29 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., at the Delaware Hospice Center, Milford. Patients and family members face many challenges at the end-of-life, including legal questions.

What is a power of attorney vs. what is a guardianship? What responsibility does a durable medical power of attorney have? What steps can one take to safely protect assets? "Off the Clock" presenters will be Michele Procino-Wells, Esq., and Amber B. Woodland, Esq., from Procino Wells LLC. Participants will hear a brief presentation and are then encouraged to ask questions about the legalities of end-of-life planning. Additional sessions of "Off the Clock" are scheduled for 3 p.m. on June 17 and July 12. For more information, contact Katie Berna, MHA, BSN, CHPN, associate director of education for Delaware Hospice, at or 530-2388.

Bayhealth welcomes new SVP Bayhealth announces the appointment of Lindsay Rhodenbaugh, D. Min, to the position of senior vice president, chief development officer for the Bayhealth Foundation. In this role, Rhodenbaugh will lead the Bayhealth Foundation and the Campaign for Bayhealth, and he will also have executive oversight of the Milford Auxiliary and Kent General Junior Board. Rhodenbaugh joins Bayhealth from Pennsylvania Hospital, University of Pennsylvania Health System, where he served as chief development officer. Prior to that, he served as senior vice president for college relations at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa. Rhodenbaugh earned his bachelor of arts degree at Augustana College, in Rock Island, Ill., where he majored in religion and business administration. He pursued his master of divinity degree at Lutheran Theological Seminary, in Gettysburg, Pa., and his doctor of ministry degree at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, in Chicago, Ill. Rhodenbaugh and his wife, Tami, have settled in Dover. Paul Lakeman has been named senior vice president, government relations, and will focus his efforts on state and federal advocacy.

Health & Wellness Now event WGM Outreach Ministries of Bridgeville will host a free Health & Wellness Now event at the Seaford Library and Cultural Arts Center in Seaford on Saturday, May 25 from noon to 3 p.m. This event will provide a variety of information on getting healthier and staying that way. Vendors will attend from all over the state showcasing a variety of products and services ranging from wellness coaching to beauty. There will be door prizes. WGM Outreach Ministries, Inc. is a community based nonprofit organization that focuses on a variety of programs and services to aid the residents of the communities we serve to live better lives.

MS Walk at Heritage Shores For the 9th year in a row, Kelly's Crusaders, will be lacing up for the annual Delaware MS walk. The walk will take place on Friday, May 31, at Heritage Shores in Bridgeville. Registration begins at 5 p.m. and the walk begins at 6. It's a scenic 3 mile walk around the beautifully landscaped golf course at Heritage Shores. For more information and to join the team of Kelly's Crusaders, contact the DE MS Society at 302-655-5610.

Asthma Awareness Workshops The Sussex Coalition, Telemon, Department of Public Health, Nemours and the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club are sponsoring Family Fun Nights to facilitate a series of asthma workshops and promote asthma awareness. Family fun nights and asthma training workshops will be held on Friday, June 7 and Friday, June 21 from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club in Seaford. Admission, activities (bring a swimsuit) and dinner are free. Presenters include Sheelagh Stewart, Nemours asthma educator; Denese Bell, public health educator and trainer; and Bill Leitzinger, Office of Healthy Environments. For more information, call Troy Hazzard at 302-444-9175 or Cathy Van Sciver at 302-262-9459.

CPR classes offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child, or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends, and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency because of job responsibilities or regulatory requirements. Cost is $45. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Group Cadia Rehab Renaissance near Millsboro is hosting and facilitating an Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support Group that meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. All meetings are open to the public and interested parties are invited to attend. Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. One person out of eight who reaches the age of 65 will develop Alzheimer's, as will one person out of every two who reaches the age of 85.